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Columbia sure put out a lot of albums in the late 1960s that were too strange to stand much of a chance of being big sellers, yet had a little too much pop (and sounded a little too contrived) to get much of a toehold in the freaky underground. Singer/songwriter Gordon Alexander was one such act, offering songs that reflected the beatific side of the hippie experience on Gordon's Buster, yet in a mild, faintly sunshine pop-influenced style that steered it well clear of the weirdest things coming out of California at the time. There's a sense of the playful psych-pop of, say, Sagittarius or Chris Lucey/Bobby Jameson, yet Alexander seems earthier and a little more connected to some genuinely stoned whimsy. The song titles alone -- "Thinking in Indian," "Letter to Baba," "Looking for the Sun," "Topanga," "Puppet Theater 23" -- tell part of that story. "A Bunch of Us Were Sitting Around a Candle in San Francisco Getting Stoned and I Hope You're There Next Time" takes the cake in that regard, though it's not some Frank Zappa-type parody. No, it's possibly even weirder; the lyric's a pretty literal extension of the title, set to a breezy orchestral easy listening bossa nova-flavored pop tune that could be easily mistaken for the late-'60s TV theme of some forgotten sitcom. Alexander's not too distinctive a singer or crafter of melodies, however. Too, the production often seems a little half-hearted, except when those easy listening strings and horns are piled on -- something to be expected, perhaps, considering the arranger was David Angel, the same guy who's famous for doing the same thing on Love's classic Forever Changes album. "I like to fly using my middle eye" and "I went looking for the sun in the darkness of my mind" are typical Alexander lyrical musings, but he's no Arthur Lee when it comes to putting enigmatic imagery to song and voice. Gratuitous washes of echo and distorted guitar come into the mix at times, yet sometimes it sounds like he's trying to do a psychedelic take on Glen Campbell. In all it's an eclectic period curiosity with some interesting Baroque touches, but one that lacks the vision, sincerity, or even the good tunes of the best similarly naive psych-pop from the era.
|Label:||Kismet (Uk) (For409)|